Extreme drought in California is forcing drastic measures on the 200,000 residents in Marin County. They have been told to cut their water usage to just 55 gallons a day.
A 10-minute shower uses about 25 gallons. A load of laundry uses 40 gallons of water. A single sprinkler head can spray out 15 gallons per minute.
The new restrictions mean no refilling swimming pools or fountains. Residents can’t wash their car in their driveways, and outdoor irrigation is prohibited.
“It’s frightening,” Fairfax Mayor Stephanie Hellman said of the drought.
John Ware and his wife, Margaret, moved to Marin County because of the lush landscape.
“There’s no irrigation until June,” Ware said. “We got a third of an acre of mature trees and plants and flowers and I don’t want to lose them.”
The couple just installed two 1,000-gallon tanks to store rainwater.
Many homeowners are finding almost 80% of their drinking water goes to irrigation, laundry and toilets.
“That’s just ridiculous that we’re using — think about it — fresh water to flush toilets,” said Paul Mann, who installs systems to capture and recycle water for outdoors. It comes with an app that sends an alert when residents use too much.
“Imagine if everyone did this,” Mann said. “We would have true sustainability despite the crisis that we’re in with climate.”
The biggest water users in Marin County face fines of more than $500 on top of their regular bill. If there is no rain the next few months, the local reservoirs could be unusable by summer.